BTS fans reflect on group hiatus


BTS takes a bow during their Love Yourself Tour show at Oakland Arena on Sept. 12, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Julia Nguyen)

Nikita Bankar

Korean boyband BTS, under label BigHit Music, announced on Oct. 17 that the band will be going on a three-year hiatus after choosing to enlist in the South Korean military. 

In South Korea, able-bodied men from ages 18 to 35 must serve at least 18 months in the military. After recent years of debate regarding whether to seek exemption from military service, as some Korean musicians and celebrities do, all seven members have been confirmed to serve their required time starting in 2025. Fans are relieved to know that until then, the members will still be releasing content in the form of solo work. 

The band’s eldest member, Jin, was the first to release solo work after the announcement broke. His song called “The Astronaut,” a collaboration with the band Coldplay, highlighted many messages about the BTS fanbase (called “ARMY”), and about the band as a whole. 

Julia Nguyen, 19, nursing major, said that she has been a fan of BTS since 2017, after their music video “Not Today” caught her attention. She said they helped her get over her heartbreak along with teaching her many valuable lessons.

“As much as it will hurt not being able to get more content and music from them, my heart will hurt more if they are rejected and hated on by their people for not joining the military,” Nguyen said. “I understand and respect that, and will support them throughout their journey.”

Nguyen said she felt emotional after hearing Jin’s song, as the lyrics and music video displayed the “true love” that Jin had for his fans and career.

“The song shared a message about BTS and ARMY because they never imagined to have such an enormous fan base with never-ending love and support,” Nguyen said. “At the end of Jin’s music video, he wrote the word ‘family,’ which most likely means that is the way he views ARMY, and how we are part of a big family.”

Nguyen was not the only one who discovered the message Jin had tied into his song. Anita Huang, 18, computer science major, said that after being connected with the group since middle school, the message she received from BTS was more on the subject of self-love.

“Although many other groups may also have this concept, I feel like BTS has a very powerful way of inspiring people to not back down,” Huang said. “They want you to love yourself for who you are, and not who people want you to be.”

Huang said that Jin’s solo song had an emotional impact on her, and she could see the amount of love that he had for his fans from the lyrics and gentle beats.

“The lyrics express how much time he has spent with ARMY and the amount of appreciation he has for them as well,” Huang said. “I feel like this song was a symbol of his journey with them from the start to finish. It serves as a beautiful farewell message to his fans and that he will come back to his family (ARMY) after his military service.”

Jerry Chen, 19, communication studies major, said that he first became attached to BTS during his middle school days, after the release of their music video “Dope.” Chen is currently a part of the KDC, a K-pop dance group at De Anza College.

What grabbed my attention from them was their passion and charismatic stage presence,” Chen said. “I really enjoyed their choreography and how they cared about their fans.”

Chen said that after hearing about Jin and his solo release before Jin’s military enlistment, he was very touched by the message Jin was trying to share with others.

“Personally, I think Jin really cares about his fans and how ‘The Astronaut’ will comfort the fans during his future absence,” Chen said. “In some contexts, this song really not only connected Jin to ARMY, but also the entirety of BTS to their beloved armies.”

Lei Lei Bosé, 20, English and dance major, is another member of KDC at De Anza and said that dance is something that helped her feel connected to BTS back in 2016. She also said that she appreciated their contributions towards societal needs.

“As a dancer, I was really captured by their level of performance energy and just their style of dance in general,” Bosé said. “Aside from respecting them as hard-working and talented performers, they’ve done a lot of advocacy for equality and spreading positive messages.”

Bosé said she was a bit surprised to hear about their military enlistment, since she had heard rumors that they would be excused from service. However, she still felt a sense of emptiness knowing they would be gone.

“It is definitely going to be weird in the beginning not seeing posts or lives from them, and just not having any new music,” Bosé said. “But all we can do is continue to support them, so we can give them the best comeback when they finally do return.”